For Christmas I got a bunch of 33 & 1/3′s, (also, Gamera does a good job of explaining them here) but without a doubt the most interesting one was on Celine Dion’s "Let’s Talk About Love". Not so much a critique of the actual album (although it is that), it’s more a critical examination of taste, and what it means to like something or dislike something. How our tastes develop (along economic lines, social lines, cultural lines), what is meant by the social currency of cool — all this interesting snooty critical theory stuff with Celine Dion as the springboard. It’s pretty great.
One of the more interesting lines of thought in the book was our fear of liking things that are overly sentimental, or tacky. He posits a theory that part of our dislike of these things is that they make us feel too much, they threaten to pull too much emotion out of us, and that we resist this so that we can still feel we have a hold on our emotions, that we are in control of our feelings. But maybe this isn’t the best thing for us, maybe it would be good for us if we could feel things strongly, really let ourselves go and feel the emotion that certain works of art are trying so desperately to make us feel.
The great thing was that I was reading a lot of this book in LA at our hotel pool — a pool that was too close to the freeway so they blasted middle-of-the-road rock to drown out the traffic noise. I’m reading this stuff about maybe giving in to the emotion and I’m listening to "Livin on a Prayer" and "Blinded by the Light" and so on. I tried to feel what it felt like to give in to these songs and it was interesting as anything. Reminded me of going to church and saying to myself "just for fun I’m going to feel what it would feel like to really BELIEVE. How does it feel? Just give in…" There’s something to it, it’s valuable somehow.
So recently whenever I see or hear something that makes me cringe a little, I try to let go of that feeling and just embrace whatever it is that’s making me cringe. This seems to be particularly effective when dealing with new pop culture stuff that’s right on the border of cool/lame. I love seeing things where I can’t tell if it’s great or if it’s weak. This guy Juiceboxxx is right there. I def appreciate the energy, and I can tell part of it is a goof, and part of it is super serious, but I just can’t make up my mind about it. I know I don’t need to have it on my ipod, but I like watching the video (it’s also a great video). Plus he’s 21, and from Milwaukee, and it seems like so much of his vibe is about being for the kids and I love that. What do you think?